Department of Ecogenetics and Systems Biology - Division of Archaea Biology and Ecogenomics


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Growth and sepation of animal-attached bacteria

Research > Ongoing Projects > Growth and septation of animal-attached bacteria

Growth and septation of animal-attached bacteria

Up to now, the study of bacterial reproduction focused on a handful of model microorganisms. On the other hand, cell biological studies of environmental bacteria such as those thriving on animal surfaces are scarce. In this research proposal we want to determine the molecular and cell biological mechanisms underlying the reproductive anomalies of four Gammaproteobacteria stably associated to animals. The ultimate goal is the identification of cell growth and septum positioning mechanisms conserved among this ecologically and medically important group of microorganisms. We will study selected cell division proteins in cell-free systems and apply a wide palette of state-of-the-art and classic microscopic techniques to both live and fixed nematode-bacteria consortia (e.g. Selective Plane Illumination Microscopy, 3D structured illumination microscopy, cryo-EM and confocal laser scanning microscopy).

Participants: Silvia Bulgheresi

Key collaborators:
Ass. Prof. Tanneke den Blaauwen, Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, Amsterdam, ·
Ass. Prof. Martin Loose, Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), Klosterneuburg
Dr. Kareem Elsayad, Campus Science Support Facilities (CSF), Advanced Microscopy Facility, Vienna
Ass. Prof. Martin Pilhofer, ETH Zürich Department of Biology Institute of Molecular Biology & Biophysics, Zürich
Prof. Yves Brun & Prof. Michael VanNieuwenhze, Indiana University




Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF) 01.11.2015-31.10.2018


LEGEND: Light microscope image of a pair of Laxus oneistus nematodes and scanning electron microscope image of the bacteria coating the surface of one of them (right top panel).
In the light microscope image, the bacterial symbionts - where present - make the nematodes appear white. Note that the anteriormost areas of the nematodes are never colonised by the symbionts.
Curiously, the bacteria-free area is always smaller in the female (left) than in the male nematodes (right). The nematodes can be up to 1 cm long and the bacteria are approximately 0.5 micrometer wide and 2 micrometer long.

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